Well designed custom chef knives?

Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,350
All,

I am curious who people would recommend for a custom chef knife. As a knife collector and someone who likes to eat, I like the idea of a custom chef knife - in particular one that would be handforged and made of a good carbon steel.

However, the ones I have seen have left me unconvinced, for a variety of reasons (quirky designs, thick stock, heavy weight, etc). Some I have seen that were very nice indeed were of a Japanese design, which works fine for some uses, but is not so good for many Western cooking.

Any idea?

Thanks,

Joss
 
Joined
Oct 31, 2005
Messages
436
Actually it is not really a custom... Let's call that a "semi-custom" : design by Henri Viallon, made by Yaxell in Japan (Seki). Damascus VG10 blade, micarta handle. I bought these two knife (paring knife and large chef knife) 3 months ago. Around € 75 each if you buy it direct to the wholesaler (€ 200 for the big one in retail !). The best knives I never used in my kitchen ! There's 3 knives in this line, called "Epicure"...

Epicure600.jpg
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2004
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469
we are very happy with tai goo's kitchen knives. while they are still very gooish, they are a real pleasure to use: thin blades, light, nicely balanced, convex edge, easy to sharpen. steel is 1095. you can have them with or without cord wrapped handle (without is better imo).

the big goo kinfe on the picture is the one i also use to practice my honing skills and to test sharpening stones.

from left to right: small goo with bottle opener (1095), goo (1095), self-forged (O1), kilchenmann (san mai, 1070 between low carbon steel), goo (1095), sfreddo (turkish twist multibar, 5160/L6), boye/conable (dendritic ss). below: goo ulu (circular saw blade).

2712611843_9e2aed1421.jpg


426625514_7a8bd73ae3.jpg


best regards,
hans
 

ddd

Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
2,498
Joss,

Here are two great Full Integral 13" chef knives made by Edmund Davidson.

Edmund typically hollow grinds all of his blades and does flat grinding only
on rare occasions, such as in the case of these two chef knives. The fully
hand-worked process ends with an all over hand-rubbed finish.
He does not make them often.

We, at home, have been using 11 kitchen knives made by GLOBAL (Japan),
and find their various designs a pleasure to use over the past 10 years or so....

It is also interesting to see how often GLOBAL knives are used
by chefs while cooking on TV programs. Their design is very appealing, their
quality very high and they are considered by some as the best in the world
as far as "factory" knives go.

All the best,
David Darom (ddd)

From my book "Edmund Davidson, The Art of the Integral Knife"
picture.JPG
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,350
David,

Thanks. Those are lovely knives, but I suspect that they would be too heavy for serious cooking. Not sure what to think of the bolster going down to the edge either.

I have some good knives, top line production. I'm satisfied with them but the use of fine carbon steels could improve on them. Also, there's the pleasure factor of using a custom knife.
 

ddd

Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
2,498
David,

Thanks. Those are lovely knives, but I suspect that they would be too heavy for serious cooking. Not sure what to think of the bolster going down to the edge either.

Joss,
These two particular chef knives were made for and are in constant
use in two kitchens that see a great deal of cooking.... I also think
that they would be quite expensive knives.

On the other hand I can understand the joy of using a good handmade
knife in the kitchen.

All the best,
David Darom (ddd)
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2004
Messages
469
while mr. davidson makes really beautiful knives, i think that the ones shown above would be poor kitchen knives. in general you don't want your knuckles to touch the cutting board, so you need a deep choil/wide blade or a handle that goes upward. and, as you need to hone the blade very often, no bolster that goes down to the edge, like joss said.

a lot of companies with decades of experience make well designed kitchen knives. designwise there is not a lot to improve, so i think it is a good idea to use the factory knives as a template when you plan to buy/order a custom kitchen knife.

and yes, of course it has to be forged! :D

hans
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
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David,

Not having used them I can only comment on their appearance, which can be very deceiving. So maybe I spoke too fast and maybe those are the equals of Shun, etc.

My standards are top of the line production. I have seen many a cook use badly designed and uncomfortable knives, for a variety of reasons such as:
- coolness factor of the knife is more important to them than comfort / ease of control;
- low price is more important than comfort / ease of control;
- Other reasons.

The coolness factor of using a Davidson knife in the kitchen would be off the charts. It doesn't mean that they are not comfortable, but it means that the fact they are used daily doesn't mean they are superb chef knives either.

I'm an afficionado of Cook's Illustrated, a magazine that attempts to test recipes and utensils in a near scientific manner. For their chef knife, their top contenders has been at various times Shun and (cheaper!) Victorinox Fibrox, with #2 IIRC Wusthof Grand Prix IIRC (Cook's didn't like Global, IIRC FWIW).

It would be interesting to know what knives great cooks use, knowing that they are also somewhat suceptible to the factors above, plus the fact that they often have a line they have to promote...
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,350
In general you don't want your knuckles to touch the cutting board, so you need a deep choil/wide blade or a handle that goes upward. and, as you need to hone the blade very often, no bolster that goes down to the edge, like joss said.

Although maybe those were designed with carving in mind rather than traditional chef's. But yes, I agree with you for a chef knife, very much so.

A lot of companies with decades of experience make well designed kitchen knives. designwise there is not a lot to improve, so i think it is a good idea to use the factory knives as a template when you plan to buy/order a custom kitchen knife.

I completely agree.
 

Jos

Joined
Oct 23, 2006
Messages
4,098
Do you have and use one?

Negative. But I handled them on knifeshows. Well balanced and comfortable handle. Unfortunately at that time I didn't have the cash to purchase one.

Kind regards,

Jos
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
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6,160
i dont have any HC here in the shop right now but if you like i might be able to work something out down the road a bit (have some other orders to work through first)

i hope to be working with both 52100 and W2 soon. right now im looking for the right stock thickness on the 52100 and need to pound out some of dons W2

do you have a size and shape / handle that your looking for. i have done more then a few kitchen knives right off scanned drawings from chefs
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
12,297
I love using a really well made carbon steel knife in the kitchen. I have two by the Japanese guy who sets up at most of the major shows. Super thin, light and high carbon steel. The edges are thinner than any I've ever seen, (not for cutting bones) and brings a new meaning to Sharp :)

I've been wanting to make some nice carbon steel kitchen knives for years but just can't find the time.........Maybe one day.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2006
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1,961
joss....i collect alot of kitchen knives....glad u are looking to switch to some carbon steel!....don i believe is talking about takeda from japan....he is at most od the shows including blade....his knives are super thin and razor sharp.....i would also tell you to take a look at butch's knives.....he makes nice blades with awsome handles and can work from a specific pattern or design you like.....and he speaks english.....i think some w-2 real thin kitchen knives would be awsome.....i guess it depends too on your budget.....and time frame to wait for them.....if i had an unlimited budget and time frame i'd get an entire set from burt foster or tai goo.....it'd be a toos up....very different styles but i love both maker's knives and have seen kitchen knives by both that were awesome.....ryan
 

Kohai999

Second Degree Cutter
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
12,554
Tim Wright makes a superb kitchen knife, have used in Phil Baldwin's kitchen....but the BEST two kitchen knives I have ever seen are from Phil Wilson of 154CM(I own one)

http://seamountknifeworks.com/Gallery4.htm

The other is from Kramer.....he has a long waiting list, but Shun is coming out with a production version...if you want the best, I would get on his list, or try out the Shun...

http://www.kramerknives.com

I also have a straight grain damascus and carbon core Ed Schempp chef's that you would love...and Ed might make you one....there is also Murray Carter(have a few of his, the Muteki line is like knife crack)....and my good friend J.P Holmes makes a superb basic chef's in S90V, one of which I also own:
http://jphknives.com/kitchen.html

Best Regards,

STeven Garsson
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,350
Ryan, Don, and Steven - thank you.

Steven - I met Bob a few weeks / couple months ago at a lunch organized by Bladegallery. I had met him once before, years ago, but I developped a great contact with him. He sure seems to know a thing or two about metallurgy and HT, as well as sharpening (not to mention the animal kingdom, and bees in particular). (That was my understatement of the month.) Great guy. It seems he doesn't take orders right now though, otherwise I'd go at it right away. His knife design makes it obvious he's done a lot of cooking.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2001
Messages
3,623
I made my wife a 8" butcher knife last winter, forged it down from 52100-1 1/2" round stock. Nothing fancy, just a regular shaped butcher knife with linen micarta scales to make it very user friendly in wet hands. My wife works in a very popular local restaurant so I had her take it so the head chef and owner (also a chef) could use it and give me their opinions on it. After a week of using it,they didn't want to give it back, both said it was one of the best if not the best butcher knife they'd ever had their hands on. Anyway, my wife brought it home and uses it every day chopping vegies and such and I've only had to touch it up 1 time all spring on a ceramic stick, I grabbed it yesterday to slice some summer sauage and it went though it like hot butter. Problem now is my wife wants another one and so does her boss.
I don't think you can beat a carbon knife, either in the kitchen or the woods, I know stainless has come a long way and its less maintance, but carbon doesn't require much care either, my wifes proof of that. ;)

Bill
 

Kohai999

Second Degree Cutter
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
12,554
.......It seems he doesn't take orders right now though, otherwise I'd go at it right away. His knife design makes it obvious he's done a lot of cooking.


It's all who you know, Joss....if you want one, e-mail me the specs, and I will do what I can...no promises, but I do have some leverage.

Best Regards,

STeven Garsson
 
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